Sweden's Robin Soderling wore down Czech Tomas Berdych 6-3, 3-6, 5-7, 6-3, 6-3 on Friday to reach the final of the French Open for the second year in a row.
The fifth seed’s victory keeps alive the prospect of a re-match with Rafael Nadal in the final after he last year became the first player to beat the Spaniard at Roland Garros.
In sweltering conditions, Soderling looked jaded at the end when Berdych hit a backhand into the tramlines to end a three hour 27 minute contest full of fierce baseline rallies.
“It was more than tough,” the sweat-drenched 25-year-old said on court. “Tomas played really well today.”
“It was really tough for me to play my game, because he was hitting the ball so hard and so flat. Everything was 10 centimetres from the baseline.”
Soderling, who beat Roger Federer in the quarter-finals, could hardly believe that he was back in the final after losing to Federer last year.
“It's unbelievable. When I came here, I was thinking about only the first round, getting past the first round. Now, two weeks later, I am in the final again. It's better than the best dream ever,” he said.
Soderling broke serve in the sixth game of the first set when Berdych double-faulted and went on to win the opener.
Both players struggled to control their power in the warm air, often firing shots over the baseline, but Berdych began to find his range to win the second and third sets.
The Czech, playing in his first grand slam semi-final, had a chance to break the Soderling serve right at the start of the fourth but the Swede pummelled down an ace.
Soderling struck in the sixth game, breaking when 15th seed Berdych netted a backhand, to set up a deciding set.
After trading early breaks in the fifth, Soderling broke twice more to reach his second grand slam final.
Four-times champion Nadal plays Austria's Jurgen Melzer in the second semi-final later on Court Philippe Chatrier.
Williams sisters make up for loss in singles
Venus and Serena Williams have won their fourth consecutive Grand Slam doubles title and 12th overall by beating Katarina Srebotnik and Kveta Peschke 6-2, 6-3. The top-seeded Williams sisters' victory in Friday's final makes them only the third women's doubles pair to win four major titles in a row. Martina Navratilova and Pam Shriver did it in 1983-84, and Gigi Fernandez and Natasha Zvereva did it in 1992-93.
Schiavone faces Stosur for title
Samantha Stosur vs. Francesca Schiavone sounds a little like a first-round pairing, and a year ago at the French Open, it was.
Stosur won that match between two veteran players who had never made a splash in a Grand Slam singles tournament. On Saturday they'll meet again, this time in final. It's hard to say whose run to the last round has been more surprising. Stosur has beaten former No. 1 Justine Henin, current No. 1 Serena Williams and former No. 1 Jelena Jankovic in successive matches. Schiavone eliminated four consecutive seeded players, including two in the top five.
Schiavone is the first Italian woman to reach a Grand Slam final. Stosur is first Australian woman to do so in 30 years.